Can self-referencing exacerbate punishing behavior toward corporate brand transgressors?

Isiksal D. G., Karaosmanoğlu E.

JOURNAL OF BRAND MANAGEMENT, vol.27, no.6, pp.629-644, 2020 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 27 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1057/s41262-020-00204-8
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, ABI/INFORM, Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, Communication & Mass Media Index, Library and Information Science Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.629-644
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This article investigates consumer reactions (punishing behavior) regarding corporate brands that engage in various types of transgressions (mild vs. severe) through a scenario-based experiment. The study adopts a 2 x 2 factorial design that examines the moderating role of self-referencing on the relationship between brand transgression severity and the punishing behavior of consumers. Before conducting the main study, the researchers carried out a pilot study to acquire insights about the severity levels of various brand transgressions as well as to determine the likelihood of individuals encountering them. The main study confirms that there is an interaction effect between self-referencing and transgression severity on consumer punishing behavior. More notably, this research highlights the fact that in cases of mild transgressions, having a point of self-reference in the transgression prompts individuals to punish the transgressor more harshly than in cases of severe transgressions. This finding may serve as a warning for corporate brands, demonstrating that they need to be careful about mild transgressions because even when they represent violations of minor rules, they can have deleterious effects on consumer-brand relationships.